How to protect plants from frost and freeze?

Frozen Plants

Spring is the magical time of the year, where one day is 65 degree F (sunny) and the other day 32 degree F, snow covered the ground. This is the time of the year where plants suffer the most due to fluctuating thermometers.

For most of the gardeners, spring season presents the year greatest gardening challenges: protecting the new tender growth from damage due to cold. The four adverse effects of severe temperature drops are frostings, root damage, freezing death and frost cracks.

So, the best way to protect your plants from this bad/killing weather is to prepare early. When the spring begins, check the ground temperature near the plants and see how cold it is and at this temperature, the plants can survive or not? In this article, you will get to know what if frosting, freezing and what you can do to save your plants?

What is frosting?

Frost occurs on still nights, clear skies and calm nights when there are no to few clouds to reflect the warmth to the ground. At this, the cold air settles down to the lowest point while the hot air rises. On these nights, frosting can happen.

When the air temperature approaches freezing, the ground temperature near the plants dips below freezing forming ice crystals, because of the temperature vary a few feet above the ground. Frost can form wherever your thermometer reads above freezing. Freezing temperatures may or may not be accompanied by frost.

Types of frost include:

Hoarfrost– generally seen on a chilly morning, it forms when the water in the air is deposited directly in the form of ice crystals.

Rime- it results when the water is deposited on plants in liquid forms through the fog. It has a glazed appearance.

Black frost– this frost doesn’t form, but plants get damaged by freezing temperature.

What is freezing?

Freezing of plants occurs when the temperature drops below the freezing point of water, i.e. 32 degree, which means the water inside the plants gets frozen, that results to cell burst or irreparable damage.

Different types of plants react differently on the frosting:

Tropical and frost-tender plants: These plants can’t survive the chill temperature, so they grow naturally in warmer climates.

Root-hardy plants: The plant got killed by the freeze, but the roots survive until the next spring.

Annual plants: They too can’t survive the freeze, also disperse seeds to replenish their number once the weather warms.

How does frost cause damage to plants?

Frost causes the water inside the plant cells to freeze which damages the cell wall that results in damages the inside structure of the plant cell. When the ground is frozen, the roots not able to take water to feed up the plants and as a result plant dies.

How to take care of plants from frosting and freezing?

The early frosts occur from September or late spring. When it happens, not only you but your plants could not prepare themselves to face the sudden cold. Plants get to make themselves for winter months by:

Chemicals and Materials: few plants store material and chemicals that act as an anti-freeze lowering the freezing point of cell contents. The process usually starts in autumn- when days become shorter.

Anti-freeze: it is the point where the plant can prevent the water in the cells from freezing below the freezing point.

Bark: this insulates the plant to prevent water from freezing inside the plant cells.

Protection for every type of plant from the harsh climate.

If you did not plan, then this winter may involve you a bit of reshuffling of the plants. Protect your vulnerable plants from frosting; you might have to bring them indoors, too.

Evergreen plants: you have to add a thick layer of mulch at the surrounding soil of the plant to keep the solid from freezing so the water can be taken up the plant, which results in they don’t dehydrate.

Tender plants: ideally need to be a shift in pots so they can be moved into the house.

Potted plants: Move all the potted plants inside to protect them from frosting.

Low growing plants: you have to cover them with a cloche to keep them growing.

New plants: avoid planting new plants in winter season as young plants will be more vulnerable to frost damage than fully established specimens.

Plants with flower buds: if not fully-grown, shift them to east-facing sites.

Tuberous plants: if the frosting has blackened the foliage, carefully chop the leaf in half and shift it to a new pot, somewhere cold. And, after a few days, store the tubers in almost dry compost in a frost-free place.